Vendors a worried lot

V3 News image

Several hundred vendors, who have set up makeshift shops in various locations across Mamallapuram, are a worried lot, as they have been asked to shift from their locations, ahead of the second informal talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the coastal town later this month.
V. Raja (name changed), who has been selling tourist caps and fancy glasses to children, is anxious since he was instructed to move out of his usual location. “Apparently, the leaders including our Prime Minister are visiting this butter ball monument and so we cannot be here,” he says pointing at the monument, a few metres away.
Since he was asked to shift from his location, there has been hardly any business, he says. K. Rajeswari (name changed), who sells stuffed toys in the most visited tourist spot of the town, too, is in the same boat.
“We have been asked to leave this place. But, our only worry is whether we will be allowed to reopen our shop once the leaders leave. Officials are not giving us any assurance that we can resume business here,” she says.
The shopkeepers of the outlets dotting the entire stretch along the fence of the Shore Temple monument have been asked to vacate until the visit of the VVIPs’ is over on October 13. These small vendors sell souvenirs, beads, small toys, miniature sculptures and the likes.
Rajeswari says though most of them got together and drafted a representation to be handed over to the Chief Minister during his last visit on Wednesday, a local councillor prevented them from doing so. He further promised to take them to the CM after the VVIPs’ visit.
“He said the government was busy preparing for the Modi-Xi summit and once the meeting was over, it would be possible for the government officials to listen to our concerns. We only hope to get back the same location where we had put up our shop for over 15 years,” she adds.